This is one of the most popular home-cooked Lebanese meals. It makes a simple supper dish, served with a big blob of thick, creamy yoghurt.
Koussa are a small, bulbous white courgette and are easy to hollow out.
8 koussa or courgettes, no smaller than 150 g each
yogurt to serve
for the stuffing
250 g lean minced lamb
125 g long-grain rice
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water
for the sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
400 g canned chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400 ml water
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Trim off the koussa at the narrow end. With a melon baller or a long, thin knife, carefully hollow out the insides of each koussa. The idea is to have a thin a shell as possible, but without piercing the skin. Reserve the pulp for the sauce.
To make the stuffing, use wet hands to mix the lamb mince, rice, spices, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and cold water. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and loosely stuff each marrow about three-quarters full, which leaves space for expansion during cooking.
Melt the butter with the oil and gently saute the onion for about 5 minutes until it is soft and translucent. Then add the garlic and mint. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the roughly chopped marrow pulp, followed by the tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Season with salt, pepper and additional spices. Stir well.
Place the marrows in the sauce, ensuring they are well covered, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for 40–45 minutes. About 10 minutes towards the end of the cooking time, remove the lid, raise the heat and cook until the sauce is reduced by a quarter.
Serve the koussa in deep bowls with plenty of sauce and top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt.